The Ruby Lounge is primarily a music venue, with an occasional penchant for lap dancing and burlesque, that’s seen everyone from Duffy to Passion Pit gracing its stage.
Almost shyly hiding amidst a row of shops just off Market Street, The Ruby Lounge – formerly the notorious Havana club, famed for being the only club in Manchester to have metal detectors and football-style turnstiles! - is quite unnoticeable during the day, but come the evening, it turns into one of Manchester’s most highly frequented gig venues. Thankfully, the turnstiles and metal detectors are long gone. A short walk from the heart of the Northern Quarter, underneath street level, it’s home to a cosy atmosphere and a world of entertainment.
There’s a surprising amount of space inside; after making your way down the steps, you’ll find comfy sofas away from the stage, and a bar in the middle. The stage itself is quite intimate, which works a treat if you’ve discovered an artist you think will be playing the Apollo in six months and just happen to be stood inches away from their face. Not so great if they’ve sold every single ticket and whilst you got distracted by the cool T-shirts for sale, you’ve returned to see the back of 200 heads. The decor is inviting and dimly lit with big pieces of art on the walls and quirky, magazine collage decorated toilets, too.
The staff are friendly and welcoming, and the bouncers are polite. Bands can often be found rubbing shoulders with the audience. Due to all the different genres played, there’s always a decent mix of regular students and hardcore music fans.
The sound system is pretty satisfying; it’s loud and can be heard even from comfy sofas away from the main action. As well regular nights such as Birthday Party, Lost and Found, Carry On and Beat Boutique, The Ruby Lounge hosts everything your ears could crave, from folk to drone, breakbeat to underground techno, with lots of punk, rock and indie in between. Door prices for bands are always reasonable (about £5-£12 depending on the night). The lap dancing is even incorporated into a monthly metal night called Caged Asylum.
Considering how busy it gets, it’d probably benefit from a bigger bar, although there still only seems to be half the wait compared to other venues that put on similar bands. At around £2.90 a pint (Guinness, Becks Vier, Strongbow), it is perhaps not the cheapest place to drink if you’re on a tight budget, but there’s no lull in beer-thirsty customers here. There are plenty of speciality ales and brews in bottles, too: Leffe, Old Speckled Hen and Bacchus Fruit beers are among the selection. You will also find house and premium spirits pouring freely here as well.
The Last Word
Judging by the continued happy crowds and brilliant, eclectic choice of live music, The Ruby Lounge is a basement space that’s been reinvented into one of Manchester’s foremost music venues - and there’s not a single cobweb in site.